At Large

Obama Couldn’t Be Cleared

In matters of security clearance, past associations often can mean the end of the process rather than just the beginning.

By 10.17.08

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The lowest-ranking enlisted persons in the Armed Forces of the United States who are expected to handle sensitive matters in the scores of jobs involving classified equipment or written material must be investigated before obtaining their security clearance. Could Barack Obama gain such a clearance?

To begin, the clearance applicant would have to complete a detailed personal history form that includes, if necessary, government access to all health and education files. This is the starting point of all security investigations. Top Secret clearance involves a field investigation rather than the Secret version that is usually limited to a "name check" that is a basic police and public information file review. For the TS clearance an investigator will visit the home neighborhoods and work place sites of the applicant in search of supportive and/or derogatory references.

If the clearance is extended further into the handling of information of such importance that it requires a compartmented distribution, the field and document investigation is pursued with considerable vigor over a lengthy period of time. Nuclear and other sensitive technical or political matters fall into this category.

In all cases, whether on the lower level or up to the most sensitive intelligence, the background of the applicant's personal and business involvement forms the nucleus of the initial phase of the investigation. The people with whom the applicant associates lead the investigator to personal connections and matters relative to the individual's character, beliefs and past acts appropriate to matters of security.

Eligibility for clearance at all levels is directly influenced by the people with whom one associates. Yes, who your friends are and have been does count -- a great deal. This is true, of course, in many types of police investigations where suspicion is adequate reason for further inquiry. In matters of security clearance, past associations often can mean the end of the process rather than just the beginning.

Considering Barack Obama as a candidate for a top secret security clearance status with a full array of compartmented clearances, one has to be cognizant of the fact that there is considerable evidence of associations and even assistance from individuals with past criminal records or who have expressed anti-American beliefs. Obviously admitted domestic terrorists William Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, as well as recently convicted felon, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, fall into this category.

There is no possibility that a Top Secret clearance would be awarded to a member of the Armed Forces whose background included such associations. An intelligence service clearance for the handling of highly classified material would be totally out of the question.

IF THERE IS SOME hesitancy to accept that Barack Obama's associations would have precluded his obtaining a TS clearance with compartmented information access, it should be realized he would have had to pass both a polygraph test and a personal psychological evaluation. What are the chances of his being willing to take these tests, to say nothing of his passing, in light of his refusal even to make his educational records available?

It may be deemed unfair, but a child of an American mother and a foreign-born non-U.S. citizen father always receives additional scrutiny. So does the fact that questions have arisen concerning the source of funding for Obama's law school education. According to a well-researched article by Kenneth Timmerman (Newsmax), Obama was assisted financially by Khalid al-Mansour through the latter's rich Saudi contacts. Mansour has been referred to as a "Black Nationalist and a Black Muslim" who was a mentor to the founders of the radical Black Panther Party of the 1960s.

All of these matters would have arisen in a normal security clearance. The harsh truth is that the United States is willing to accept presidential candidates like Barack H. Obama who could never gain a Top Secret clearance if he was simply a U.S. Army enlisted man. And yet Obama wants to be Commander-in-Chief. Something is wrong here!

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About the Author
George H. Wittman writes a weekly column on international affairs for The American Spectator online. He was the founding chairman of the National Institute for Public Policy.